Construction output reached a six-year high in the first quarter of 2000, according to figures released by the RICS.

A quarter of chartered surveyors saw their workload rise in the three months. This compares with 6% in the same period a year ago, and is 1% up on the last quarter of 1999.

The figures are the result of strong performances in the commercial and industrial sectors. A balance of 42% of surveyors reported rising commercial workload, nearly double the 24% that did so in the first quarter of 1999. Surveyors were also happy about industrial work, with 25% reporting an increase; only 3% did the same in 1999.

Prospects for the next three months are also the best for two-and-a-half years, according to the survey, with almost half of those surveyed expecting the rise to continue. However, the upturn in work has resulted in continuing skills shortages in the first quarter, according to 43% of surveyors – up 24% compared with the same period in 1999.